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Precise scheduling and estimation of costs and resources necessary for a business project are crucial elements of successful project management. For a manager, it is vital to be able to collect data about the activities obligatory for work to be completed and estimate the amount of workforce, time, and resources to provide the result by a deadline. The project management methodology helps identify the most effective ways to achieve results in particular conditions.
The paper analyzes the tree trimming project managed by a Christmas tree timber Thomas Johnson. The actions of the manager will be examined from his schedule completion, project performance, as well as the alternative utilization of other methods and techniques. Proper carrying out of cost estimating and earned value methodology, projects management techniques for scheduling the activities are crucial for the successful performance within the project.
The success of any project lies in the accurate application of scheduling and estimating techniques. However, as Wilson (2014) suggests, the successful result does not only depend on the correct identification of necessary resources, estimating costs, and the decision of a sequence of activities. It is also essential to “design and initiate schedule, cost, and quality controls” (Wilson, 2014, p. 9). This idea helps to analyze the work of a project manager in a proposed situation. According to the suggested scenario, a timber Thomas Johnson counted the Christmas trees in the field which was about 24,000.
He trained his crew to trim the trees with special machetes and agreed with the customer for a $30,000 lump sum for the work to be completed. Upon receiving the first partial payment after five days of work on the project, Thomas calculated that approximately 6,000 trees had been trimmed that makes 25% of work done, with the payment for this part of work equal to $7,500. Regarding these calculations, Thomas’ project is on schedule because for 25% of completed work he received 25% of total agreed payment. Thus, the work activities are planned and carried out according to the project schedule.
Earned Value Utilization Analysis
In project management, it is important to accurately evaluate the budget earned on different steps of work proceeding to analyze the schedule variance and the stage of the project completion. From this perspective, earned value as a “budgeted amount of cost for work scheduled to be accomplished plus budgeted for the level of effort or apportioned effort activity” done during a given period (Kezner, 2017, p. 514).
To utilize earned value in schedule analysis properly, a manager should include it in a calculation of schedule variance where planned value has to be deducted from the earned value (Wilson, 2014, p. 232). However, Johnson does not utilize the concept correctly because he evaluates his schedule performance according to the share of earned value in the total sum. The manager in the suggested scenario does not identify planned value in his project.
Schedule and Cost Variance
One of the primary responsibilities of a project manager is the establishment of control over the activities during the process of project work. According to Wilson (2014), a manager can control the process of work with constant readiness to adjust the achieved results to the requirements and adding “improvements to cost and schedule” (p. 4). Therefore, the recognition and control of schedule and cost variance within a project contributes to its successful performance.
Upon the fifth-day partial work completion, Thomas should estimate the schedule variance deducting planned value for the period from the actual earned value. If the result is “zero,” the project is on schedule. However, if it is negative, it means that the project is behind schedule when the positive schedule variance shows that the work is over schedule (Wilson, 2014). To set up cost variance, Thomas should use the formula “CV=EV-AC,” where CV stands for cost variance, EV – earned value, and AC – actual cost (Wilson, 2014, p. 232). These calculations would help the manager to evaluate his project according to budget spending and would enable him to adjust the activities accordingly.
Methods for Changes in the Project
In case of any changes applied to the project upon the customer’s request, there should be specific methods considered to address the changes without cost or schedule losses. Any change in a project scope should be carried out within the established rules that do not contradict with the initial goal set before the manager (Kerzner, 2017). If Thomas was asked to change the form of the trees trimmed, he should use the method that requires “an assessment of the customer’s needs and the added value” (Kezner, 2017, p. 751).
Also, it would be necessary to analyze the available resources in comparison to the required ones, as well as the time and costs needed to carry out the changes. Thomas had already trained the team to trim the trees into a cone shape. If he were asked to change the shape, he would have to spend time and costs to train the team a different technique of trimming and probably would need additional tools, other than machetes. All these variables should be taken into consideration when applying the project scope change.
Agile Methodology Applied for the Project
Thomas could accelerate the completion of his project if he utilized the agile methodology in his work. This method is designed to eliminate diverse problems in traditional management concentrating on constant improvements during the project life cycle, tending to complete work before schedule, and adjusting work according to requirements (Krezner, 2017). Prioritizing people and collaboration and utilizing participative leadership style, Thomas would be able to improve the productivity of his team’s work by the inclusion of each of them into the process.
Analysis of the Project with the Estimated Quote
Assuming that the original sum agreed with the customer was estimated, Thomas performance on the project could be evaluated as an insufficiently accurate. If the cost was an estimate, the timber should have adjusted the costs according to the completion of a part of project and negotiate changes with the customer. Utilizing top-down methodology of cost estimating on the later stages of the project development would help Thomas recognize the weak and strong sides of the project and make necessary adjustments.
Concluding the discussion, it is obvious that the trees trimming project manager could have used diverse methods and techniques of project management to improve his performance. However, the calculations made at the initial stages of work activities showed that the team is on schedule. However, Thomas did not utilize the concept of earned value correctly, not taking into consideration the planned value of the project. A utilization of agile methodology and proper schedule and cost variance analysis would help Thomas increase the level of productivity of his workers and meet the requirements and changes of the customer.
Kerzner, H. (2017). Project management: A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling (12th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.
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Wilson, R. (2014). A comprehensive guide to project management schedule and cost control: Methods and models for managing the project lifecycle. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.